What’s in the Lunch Box?

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Boys' Lunch Boxes, Ready to Go!

Is it back to school time at your house? If so, you’re probably jumping back into the morning chore that we parents may thankfully get a break from all summer: packing the kids’ lunches. I don’t know about you, but I’m not afraid to say that it’s not one of my favorite Mom roles! And that as much as I want my boys to have a healthy and tasty lunch, too often the convenience factor wins out when I find myself searching for lunchbox ideas.

For my book, “My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything,” I interviewed about 50 chefs across the country who have little kids themselves. These are people who know the value in teaching their kids to eat decent, healthy foods, but as busy , working parents, they’re as strapped for time as the rest of us. So I asked them about school lunches: What do they pack in those lunch boxes and bags?

I thought it was interesting that I got about a 50 – 50 split. There were those that said that they really worked to make their kids’ lunches a little different, interesting and tasty, and those that have thrown in the towel and pack a standard turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich most days.

Dan Sachs of Bin 36 in Chicago is one chef who puts forth extra effort at home to send his little ones off with tasty treats for lunchtime. “It’s a pain in the butt to do that as a parent, to have creative lunches, but for better or worse, I don’t give them the same lunch every day. I want them to be excited about what they are having,” he said.

Equally adamants were chef-parents like Steve Chiappetti of Viand, also in Chicago. When it comes to school lunches for his eight-year-old daughter, he says that is one thing he doesn’t fool around with. “It’s PB&J and things like that for school,” Chiappetti told me. “We stick to the norm. We don’t want her to be in school and have people say ‘what is that?’ We want her to eat.”

Next week, I’ll post some ideas for your kids’ school lunch boxes, including some great idea from my book given to me by these chefs. I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for healthy, tasty lunch foods that your children look forward to.

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